South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock legend is a finalist for a major MLB award

South Carolina baseball's Christian Walker. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina baseball's Christian Walker. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports /

South Carolina baseball legend Christian Walker came to Columbia as a third baseman. Had he stuck at the position, the history of the Gamecock program might have been different.

Moving Walker over to first base allowed him to stay in the lineup and kept Adrian Morales, one of the team’s emotional leaders, on the field, as well. Morales took over the full-time third base job, and Walker was one of the team’s best bats at first base. The Gamecocks went on to win the next two College World Series National Championships with Walker and Morales on the corners.

Had the Pennsylvania native stayed at third, it would have altered his professional career, as well. Walker was decent at third, but upon moving to first base, he became an elite defender.

That elite defense has followed him throughout his Major League Baseball career, and now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Walker is one of the top gloves in the sport. Walker is a three-time nominee for the National League Gold Glove Award at first base, winning the honor in 2022.

On Wednesday, Rawlings announced the finalists for the 2023 Gold Gloves, and Walker was named one of three finalists for the award at first base along with Freddie Freeman and Carlos Santana. Walker is the favorite to win the award, but Freeman is a former winner of the hardware, and Santana had the best defensive year of his career.

While Walker is one of the best defensive players in the game, he is not just a glove. Since becoming a full-time starter with the Diamondbacks in 2019, he is in the top-30 in Major League Baseball in home runs.

Last week during Arizona’s sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker helped the D-Backs make MLB Postseason history by hitting one of four home runs in the same inning, the first time that has ever happened in the history of the Major League Baseball Postseason.

With another Gold Glove win, Walker would become the all-time leader in Gold Gloves for South Carolina baseball alums, passing former Gamecock teammate Jackie Bradley, Jr. who won the award in 2018.

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